• Kathryn Solee


Updated: Jun 6, 2020

“By discovering nature, you discover yourself.”

Maxime Lagacé

Nature is where I refresh, rebalance, and recharge. Where the accumulated cacophony of life transforms into quietude, serenity, and tranquility. Where a deep breath of fresh air invigorates body and soul.

It was a long journey of more than 30 moves crisscrossing the country and zig-zagging up and down the east coast to realize Western North Carolina is home. From inspiring mountain tops to emotionally cleansing waterfalls, this diverse nature-rich land resonates with my soul.

How I Found Western North Carolina

In the spring of 1996, my inner voice said it was time to move on. The wanderlust of life was calling. Having spent a summer with Patch Adams at Gesundheit Institute in Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia and six months as an innkeeper in Vermont’s Green Mountains, I was sure the mountains were calling, but where exactly.

Living in Northern Virginia at the time, I began exploring the Appalachian Mountains with weekend road trips. I was starting to feel like Goldilocks – I wasn’t feeling my “just right.” You see, I was listening to my heart as I viewed this breathtaking country.

That summer, I serendipitously reconnected with a lost acquaintance who invited me to her new home west of Asheville, North Carolina. The beautiful, peaceful setting nestled on a ridge with valley views lead me to believe perhaps this area was my “just right.”

My friend needed to travel the next month but had a new Great Pyrenees puppy she didn’t want to board. Would I consider puppy sitting for ten days? Certainly. During that time, I loaded up the puppy and began exploring the area and looking at homes for sale. A lot of homes for sale. Some to “hot.” Some to “cold.” Finally, the one that felt “just right” cantilevered into the treetops overlooking the valley with a babbling mountain brook. Home.

The Mountains are Calling

Mycareer took me to Augusta, Georgia, in late August 2001. I had intended to sell the mountain house, but then 9/11 happened. After several low ball offers, I decided to keep the house and returned at least once a month for long weekends and holidays – my mountain and nature fix.

In 2004 wanderlust hit again, and I was off to Charleston, South Carolina. Housing prices in Charleston forced me to sell the mountain house. It took less than a year for me to figure out I’d rather live in the mountains and visit Charleston than live in Charleston and visit the mountains. So, back to the mountains, it was in 2005.

By 2007 my career once again took me out of Western North Carolina. During the six years, I was gone, I made many trips back to the mountains. There was something here I couldn’t find anywhere else – the magical something that nourished my soul.

In 2012 during my position was eliminated during a reorganization. After coming in as runner up to several opportunities, I realized I needed a new plan. I needed to work, but perhaps not in Northern Virginia. There was only one place to consider – Asheville.

You know it’s the right decision when good luck meets chance. My house was listed Thursday evening, and by noon the following day, there was a full price offer. I arrived in Asheville May 3, 2013, and in two weeks, I was settling into my encore career.

Seven years later, I can label what about this area is “just right” for me. It’s the abundance of nature —open vistas from mountain tops. Cocooning effect a cove hardwood forest extends. Abundant wildflowers. Calming and well-being offered by the negative ions of a waterfall. Four seasons.

Why Now?

As North Carolina and so many other states enter stay home stay safe to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, I realize how much I depend upon weekly hikes in nature. More importantly, how lucky I am to live in a house with a yard, a beautiful neighborhood and all that is the great outdoors of Western North Carolina. Today as I hiked in the North Carolina Arboretum, my thoughts went to those under stricter stay home orders and without easy access to nature. Simple solution – share my experiences.

Obsession with Flowers and Forest Treasures

Yes, I am obsessed with flowers and photographing them. The color certainly draws my attention. It’s looking into their centers that mesmerize me – like looking into a soul. I find tremendous peace and calm roaming local gardens in search of the perfect subject.

My hiking friends marvel at the forest treasures I see to photograph. It’s because I walk slowly. I want to see and enjoy the hike. Forest trails strewn with rocks and tree roots, provide plenty of trip hazards. Having broken my leg, ankle, and foot a few years ago, I need to watch where I step, giving me a chance to see what’s beside the trail. I also possess a tendency to become lost in thought walking, increasing the likelihood of falling. Therefore, I often pause to take in the broader perspective before me

Hiking Companions

Joining me on adventures into nature are my two rescue dogs Zorro an 11-year-old Landseer Newfoundland/Border Collie mix and his two-year-old sister Essie an Aussiedoodle.

Enjoy discovering yourself through nature!

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